Voodoo Glow Skulls

Livin' The Apocalypse

Written by: MAK on 23/07/2021 13:45:21

2012 was the last time we heard a Voodoo Glow Skulls release and a lot has changed for the ska punks since then. The biggest would be the departure of frontman Frank Casillas, in 2017, and the band replacing him with Death By Stereo vocalist Efrem Schulz. It felt questionable at first to bring in someone with more of a metalcore and hardcore background, even if Voodoo Glow Skulls leaned more on the heavier side of ska, but Schulz has breathed new life into the genre veterans. After years of performing the classics live, the time has now come for the ska outfit to unleash something new in the form of “Livin’ The Apocalypse”

With an opener like “Make America Skank Again”, a humorous rip into Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, the erratic ska-punk that flaunts crunchy riffs combined with speedy upstrokes and an array of punchy brass hooks we’ve all come to know and love is still there. Yet with this album, it feels like the band are having fun again with their fresh start, with a bubbly high octane track like “Generation Genocide” feeling like a pure throwback to the band in the mid-90s. Things flow by pretty swiftly, and it’s “The Karen Song” that first truly pricks the ears as it tears into the types of entitled women that suck the enjoyment out of everything. The bouncy, intricate bassline and the soulful brass hooks with a catchy as hell chorus line; “NO MORE PARTY, NO MORE FUN” make this one of the more "stand out" tracks on the album.

By this point, you get a feel for the new frontman, who provides more of a quirky singy shout style, which differs from Casillas’ gruff, brutish approach. The quirkiness suits the band more. “Suburban Zombies” leans on the joyful basement ska vibes, unleashing plenty of skank worthy hooks. The title track “Livin’ The Apocalypse” on the other hand pushes more towards the skacore influences with harder-hitting riffs, shouty hardcore punk style vocals, yet still with a catchy chorus to balance things out. “Unity Song” comes across differently, acting more like a brass filled Pennywise track, it just has that Epi-fat Californian punk sound. The rhythm of the track is all too reminiscent of Pennywise hit “Fuck Authority”, especially with the gang vocals towards the end.

“All In My Head” and “Pared De La Muerte” bring us back to the old school wacky Voodoo Glow Skulls vibes we’re used to, up-tempo anthems to get a crowd moving. “Rise Up” then poses as the most mainstream hit on the album; Chirpy third wave ska influences with perkier horn melodies, and an outright fun atmosphere to dance and sing along. The chorus hook is infectious. This weirdly sets up the closing couple of tracks to stand out more with their heavier tones. “Story at 11” is this first real sign of recognising Schulz from his Death By Stereo background, as he switches from his quirky vocals to something more shouty and aggressive. “The Walking Dread” is a ska/thrash metal hybrid track that starts with some chilled reggae style tones that gradually evolve into headbanging worthy riff segments. This is topped off perfectly by guest vocals from Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe who lends his distinctively deep voice and window-smashing screams.

After nearly a decade of no new music and the introduction of a new frontman after ten releases with the previous vocalist, you’ll be forgiven for going into this album with caution, but a Schulz fronted Voodoo Glow Skulls feels like a breath of fresh air for the band. There are no dull tracks, the flow of the album keeps you guessing as it weaves between the skacore, skate punk and third-wave influences and none of the tracks outstay their welcome. “Livin’ The Apocalypse” has given me a new love for the band.

8

Download: The Karen Song, Livin' The Apocalypse, Rise Up
For the fans of: Against All Authority, Suicide Machines, Streetlight Manifesto
Listen: Facebook

Release date 14.05.2021
Dr Strange/Go Loco Records

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